Jerusalem: Vowing not to evacuate more Jewish settlements, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday voiced strong criticism against Israel's 2005 unilateral evacuation from Gaza and said his government "will not repeat this mistake and create more evacuees”.
"The evacuation from Gaza did not bring peace or security, and Gaza became a Hamas outpost ruled by Iran. We will not repeat this mistake. We will not create new evacuees," Netanyahu said at the beginning of a weekly cabinet meeting today.
"What is done cannot be undone. We want a bilateral agreement, which will include [Palestinian] recognition of the state of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people and a sustainable and enforceable security arrangement," the Israeli Premier said.
The Hawkish Likud Party leader reiterated that a future Palestinian state created through peace negotiations will be a demilitarised state.
He also promised to discuss extending the mandate for the care of the Gush Katif and West Bank evacuees from Israel's disengagement from such areas in 2005.
"This means economic rehabilitation, rehabilitation in every sense of the word, rehabilitation now and not later," he said, adding that he had asked his ministers for ideas to go ahead with the project. The cabinet members were to be briefed on the compensation already paid out to evacuees.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Ehud Barak today lashed out at the new position being formulated by Palestinian authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, backed by the West as a partner in the peace process with Israel.
"The rhetoric we hear from the Fatah Congress and the stances taken there are unacceptable to us, but we need to realise that there is no solution for the Middle East but a settlement".
"I advise Abu Mazen (nom de guerre for Abbas) to enter into serious negotiations with us, and I advice the Americans under the leadership of President (Barack) Obama to
lead a process such as this in the Middle East, including the Palestinians, Syria, and additional countries," Barak said.
Abbas was yesterday re-elected as the leader of the Fatah movement at a party Congress being held in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, the first such exercise for the historic
faction in 20 years.
"We are here to liberate the Palestinian land and to form our state with Jerusalem as its capital," Abbas told the Fatah delegates who elected him.
"Time and time again we have recovered from failures and squabbles and this congress symbolises the great energy that this movement, which fired the first shot in the Palestinian struggle, has," he said, in a surprising move for a Palestinian leader considered a moderate.
First Published: Sunday, August 09, 2009, 16:24